March 7, 2017
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
by Taylor Sperry
The women behind Timbuktu Labs—a multimedia company that builds everything from playgrounds to apps for children—have published a good old-fashioned, if-it-ain’t-broke book called Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which Georgina Rannard at the BBC happens to have featured in the lead-up to the “A Day Without a Woman” strike taking place across the United States tomorrow, March 8th (it’s worth reading Dayna Tortorici’s great piece on that for n+1).
Anyway, the book, which is meant for both boys and girls, “uses illustrations and fairytale-like stories about 100 inspirational women from across the globe” to counteract the traditional gender stereotypes that are still so dominant in children’s literature.
Rannard cites a study out of Florida State University that reported “both girls and boys aged six tend to identify a ‘really, really smart’ storybook character as a boy, not a girl” and that “by the time they are six, girls see themselves as less talented or ‘brilliant’ as boys.”
Co-author Elena Favilli told the BBC, “Rebels have negative connotations in all cultures — it is usually considered bad for a woman. Our message is that it is OK and even a good thing for women to break rules.” (And for some grown-up reading on that, allow me to recommend Sady Doyle’s “fiercely brilliant, must-read” Trainwreck.)
Pairing illustrations and stories of everyone from Ada Lovelace (oh, hey, while we’re at it, there’s this, too!), to Amelia Earhart, to Michelle Obama, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls offers “true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don’t need rescuing.”
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.